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Interplay Album reviews

Tony Augarde – Jazz CD Reviews 


Litvinoff leads the group with strong double bass. Adrian wrote all but two of the tunes on this debut CD, and they are all melodious and memorable….the arrangements are warm and imaginative. 

There is a wide range of styles – from the funkiness of Island via the dreamy buoyancy of Rising on Thermals to the African influence in The Shuffle. 

And there are some good solos, especially from the very talented saxophonist Alan Wakeman. Alan supplies some smart soprano sax on Hang Around and he states the theme of Rising on Thermals with feeling. But then he has played for Graham Collier, John Dankworth and Don Rendell. Trombonist Richard Baker also makes some worthwhile contributions, having graduated from classical music to jazz. The rhythm section fulfils its role confidently, with agreeable solos from all three members.

Posted on January 4, 2014 by Adrian Pallant at http://adrianspallant.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/global-interplay/ 


A VERITABLE CORNUCOPIA of musical influences colour the jazz of this lively second release, ‘Global’, from Midlands-based quintet, Interplay. 

From the outset, it’s clear that this five-piece’s intent is to offer a programme of upbeat, diverse and accessible jazz – the established line-up of Alan Wakeman (reeds), Richard Baker (trombone), Neil Hunter (keys), Adrian Litvinoff (bass) and Dave Balen (drums) presenting no less than eight impressive Litvinoff originals, as well as their own interpretations of favourites from such luminaries as McCoy Tyner, Abdullah Ibrahim and Pat Metheny. 

At the heart of the playlist, Litvinoff’s raga-style Weightless conveys the cosmopolitan flavours to be found here, Dave Balen’s beautifully-weighted tabla producing a mesmeric rhythm from which Alan Wakeman’s gentle, keyboard-backed soprano flows so freely. Autumn Magic is a breezy outing (though also with a darker, pensive look towards Winter), illuminated by Wakeman’s bright shining flute and Richard Baker’s nimble-yet-smooth trombone soloing. Fashion Statement indicates more of a fusion feel, due to its strong organ/synth presence and composer Litvinoff’s electric bass, whilst Su Baille Nuevo dances spiritedly to a mid-tempo flamenco rhythm which increases in intensity as Baker and Wakeman improvise off each other. 

Slow Flame, an ’80s creation of Litvinoff’s, finds Alan Wakeman carrying a luscious tenor line over sensitive piano, bass and drums – Baker’s fluent trombone soloing, too, is a delight. In contrast, the quintet gives added vigour to Abdullah Ibrahim’s Imam, soprano sax, trombone and Egyptian tabla a great combination over a harder-edged electric bass ground (perhaps shades of Gilad Atzmon, and very effective!). Neil Hunter’s electric piano on Swift Return provides a cheery, retro-felt samba, Wakeman’s flighty flute enhancing Litvinoff’s first-sign-of-Summer inspiration. 

The Cuban All Star Band’s classic Amor Verdadero takes on a higher-energy tempo here, driven along by drums and congas, bristling Latin piano from Hunter and a strong pairing of trombone and tenor. The quintet’s arrangement of McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation sounds particularly fresh with Baker’s sonorous trombone lead, rich tenor soloing, and lavish major/minor piano that its composer would be proud of! Adrian Litvinoff’s acceptance of older age (by his own description) brings warmth and charm to Elders, a gentle, classic-sounding number which includes the clarity and lightness of his own double bass soloing. Shapeshift skims along gleefully to Balen’s and Litvinoff’s up-tempo rhythm, tenor sax and trombone gliding above Hunter’s expert organ and piano work; and Pat Metheny’s Hermitage (sans guitar) eases us out pleasantly with it’s mellow, homely and easy-going nature. 

Interplay have developed a reputation over the past few years for bringing contemporary jazz to a wider audience, performing live at numerous gigs, festivals and community events. ‘Global’ pulls together the band’s considerable combined experience (their individual CVs are pretty staggering!) to create this joyful and contrasting studio recording. 

For further information, and to purchase, see interplayjazz.co.uk and Silvery Records 

Rated 4out of 5 

Adrian Litvinoff – January 24, 2014 

Review by Euan Dixon, ‘Jazz Views’ 

The sleeve notes and cover art of this excellent disc earnestly espouse a New Age/World music agenda which could be a bit off-putting to those who don’t share such enthusiasms. That would be a pity because there is nothing effete or wilfully eclectic about what is essentially a quite virile assay of 
post –bop modes. There are, it can’t be denied, impressionistic aspirations at work but the tenor/trombone pairing that dominates most of the set ensures that the music is grounded in the jazz vocabulary of groups like the early Jazz Crusaders or even the Getz/Brookmeyer quintet albeit spruced up with post-modern embellishments. 

Wakeman’s tenor sound has that hollow resonance that is associated with Charles Lloyd and coupled with Baker’s rich, warm trombone sound they constitute a potent a front line presence. Flute and soprano sax are deployed to suit the compositional prerequisites which inevitably include 
pieces of Latin American music and others in eastern and oriental styles whilst the piano is exchanged for keyboard when softer, fluid harmonies are called for. 

The `global` brief, as one would expect, requires input from a pretty resourceful percussionist and Balen certainly rises to the task of keeping everything on the go. Only in one of the Latin numbers did I feel a tinge of monotony setting in which would have been helped by the addition of another percussionist to set up a bit of polyrhythmic tension but this is a minor quibble that doesn’t seriously impair the overall effectiveness of the piece in question. 

Of the playlist, the compositions are mostly attributed to bass player and producer, Litvinoff as well as including versions of tunes by McCoy 
Tyner, Pat Metheny, Jose Diaz and Abdullah Ibrahim. Of the originals ‘Swift Return`, an ornithological inspired confection, is an absolute honey of a track. Played in samba time it is a scintillating and eminently hummable tune that must be a show stopper when performed at a gig. 

I suspect that this disc has been produced for sale at the band’s concerts and it would be a pity if that were its principal mode of distribution 
given that some of us may have to wait a while to hear them live. For those who can’t wait –and why should you- their music can be purchased/downloaded from their website at https://www.interplayjazz.co.uk. Give it try, you won’t be disappointed. 

Reviewed by Euan Dixon http://jazzviewscdreviews.weebly.com